Just like that, it's over.
Seven weeks after tipping off, the Winona State Warriors played their last game of the 2021 season. They went out on a high note, knocking off Upper Iowa 90-67 in the season finale. Andrea Lo Biondo, Luke Martens, Kevion Taylor and Alec Rosner all scored in double figures in the big win.
Winona State finishes the season 7-6 overall and 5-5 in NSIC play.
Here are five takeaways from the game.
1. Warriors show mental toughness
Winona State had nothing to play for on Saturday. After they blew a 15-point lead yesterday and ended up losing 80-65 on Friday, they were out of the running to make the NSIC Tournament. But after having its season delayed until January, they learned that every practice counts and every game is gold. They played like the cared Saturday. They played tough. They executed offensively and took good shots. They were connected defensively and slowed down NSIC's No. 1 offense. They punked the Peacocks and handed them a drubbing they hadn't felt all year long.
2. Andrea Lo Biondo delivers spectacular performance
Lo Biondo must like playing Upper Iowa. The Italian big man's career-high in points (18) and rebounds (16) came when they played the Peacocks earlier this season. He didn't have a career night on Saturday, but he still delivered one heck of a performance. Lo Biondo finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds. He patrolled the paint and forced Upper Iowa to try and elevate over his long 6-foot-8 frame. He scored eight points in hte first six minutes of the game and really kept the Warriors in the contest while everyone else got their feet wet. Sometimes, WSU head coach Todd Eisner will get on Lo Biondo for not playing tough on the interior, but Lo Biondo did everything and more for the Warriors on Saturday. Another offseason to get stronger and develop more will be huge. Lo Biondo could come back next year and solidify himself as one of the best big men in the NSIC.
3. Luke Martens and Alec Rosner's toughness can't be overstated
Luke Martens and Alec Rosner are both undersized but good luck taking the ball away from them. And when they elevate for a rebound in a crowd, they're almost always coming down with it. Both Martens and Rosner were absolute difference-makers for the Warriors off the bench. Martens finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, including three big offensive rebounds. He was terrific defensively, swiping two steals. Rosner is playing with a heavy brace on his right knee to help his partially torn ACL, but he was outstanding off the bench too. He drained 5-of-8 shots and finished with 14 points. Both Martens and Rosner were terrific defensively with switches and talking and helping when their teammate needed it.
4. Defense rises to the occasion
In the first three games against Upper Iowa, the Peacocks had eclipsed 80 points every single time. But not Saturday. Winona State's defense was locked in and got better as the day went on. Joe Smoldt is the best shooter in the NSIC, and he drained three 3-pointers in the first six minutes, but the Warriors didn't let him hit one more 3-pointer for the rest of the game. Upper Iowa finished just 11-for-35 from downtown. That's one of their worst performances of the season. A big kudos has to go to the Warriors staff for putting together an excellent gameplan.
5. Connor Dillon: Winona State's next big thing
Connor Dillon has plenty of freshmen moments that drive Eisner nuts. But he also has some special moments. Dillon has delivered multiple explosive games this season where he'll hit five or six 3-pointers. Saturday wasn't that type of performance. He only played nine minutes, but he's just instant offense. He scored seven points and had a couple rebounds. Dillon proved he's more than just a shooter. He's got an innate ability to get to the rim and his athleticism helps him finish at the cup.